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070104 P. Sainath - Neoliberalism and India's Farm Crisis

A hidden tragedy is unfolding in rural India: an epidemic of suicides has left more than more than 100,000 dead. And the toll is mounting. It's certainly not the stuff of upbeat Thomas Friedman stories in "The New York Times" about cutting edge hi-tech computer software centers in gleaming glass towers. The farm crisis is acute. Under the dictums of neoliberalism, sometimes called globalization, India has opened its agricultural sector to foreign, mostly U.S. imports. Grains and cotton come into India at below market prices. Why? Because they are heavily subsidized by American taxpayers. Indian farmers can't compete in this so-called level playing field. To try and keep up they go heavily into debt. Many face disaster and total ruin and in despair take their own lives. They are victims of neoliberal economic policy.

P. Sainath is an award-winning journalist who writes about the crisis in the Indian countryside. He is Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu, one of India's most important newspapers. "I cover the people who live at the bottom end of the spectrum," he says. He is author of Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India's Poorest Districts.


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www.araustralia.org